MATCH REPORT: A great performance, but it felt like a defeat

After a long journey mainly in reasonable weather it started raining as soon as we arrived in York and after a 10 minute wait in the car we made our way to the ground and spent pre match in their club as didn’t really fancy getting caught out and getting soaked before the game. To be honest; as was to be expected; the York fans were very subdued but thankfully there was neither in their club or in the ground any visible taunting of their predicament. Our spell in Non league has obviously taught us a bit of diplomacy which was good to see as we all knew exactly how they would be feeling.

As team news came through I was delighted to see that DC had named an unchanged team which for me showed an attacking intent which was very pleasing after the fiasco at Stevenage. I was a bit worried that their 3-1 beating of Portsmouth in their last home game would persuade Darrell to go with a cautious approach to contain York and then catch them on the break. Thankfully this was not to be the case and what followed was a match in which we played some outstanding football at times with all players giving their all and there were some outstanding performances which IMO for some of the players was their best of the season- Mansell, Lines and Bodin spring to mind. For others it was a normal performance and in a good team performance I felt that nobody deserved below a 6 because although not everything went for them they all put in an honest shift and every player including the substitutes did something positive.
Mildenhall 6.5 – Nothing to do other than a few routine crosses. Had no chance with the goal conceded and distribution was good the majority of the time. It was nice to not have to see him make any real saves and shows just how well we played.
Leadbitter 6.5 – A solid defensive performance after a shakey start, it was not the Leadbitter we see often at the Mem charging down the wing but he still managed to get a number of penetrating runs which unfortunately didn’t finish with quality crosses. His pace is a big plus for him and for me he is far better as a defender who attacks than a wing back where he seems lost. This is the opposite to my original thoughts of him in the early stages of last season where I thought he was an attacking full back who was not quite up to it defensively. I would definitely give him the edge over James Clarke now and I think DC now sees it the same way as when we play 4-4-2 he now gets the nod over Clarke.
Lockyer 8 – Another sound display from Tom which is the norm. I still look back at that Carlisle game and blame the FA and FIFA for our present predicament because i am sure had Tom played that day we would have taken at least a point and probably all three. For me the nonchalent way he over powered the York striker near the touchline tand then turned him and left him for dead summed up the Tom Lockyer we have come to love. Great reading of the game and the ability to come away with the ball in the majority of situations. I very much hope that we can get promotion and hold on to Tom as to be honest I can’t see him playing another season in League 2 but think he is level headed enough to see the step up to League 1 with the club who gave him his chance as progression in his career.
McChrystal 8 – Mark gave another solid defensive performance and did everything he had to do efficiently. Never takes a chance on things and plays to his strengths which is a hard working, no nonsense defender who leads the side by example. Darrell now picks him for every game over Parkes when he plays 4-4-2 and it seems that any game where we change to 3 at the back it is Mark who misses out for the Parkes,Lockyer and james Clarke. Personally I shall not be at all disappointed if we never see that formation again although it would not surprise me to see it in the Play Off away match or Wembley if that is to be our fate.
Brown 7- Started very well and was always looking for the ball. Solid in his defending and his understanding with Montano seems to be improving.He seemed to be asleep on the goal conceded allowing his player to nip in without a challenge but that was not the case the rest of the game as he defended very well and was totally in control of his opponent. Lee has had a very good season and i am very pleased he has signed a new contract as he is Mr Reliable which probably is just as well as we have no natural replacement. 
Montano 6.5 – Decent. One powerful shot that the keeper did well to save and unselfish when running through on goal and trying to set up I think it was Taylor when he probably could have scored himself. He has the ability and a bit of pace about him and for me playing him gives us an attacking approach. He seems to tire in the second half of games and maybe having Gosling to bring on for him when he reaches this stage is good tactics as it gives fresh legs against tiring defenders. Certainly this was the case yesterday.
Mansell 8.5 MOM – Back to his absolute best and the perfect foil for Lines. He gave a really infectious performance, always harrassing the opposition and not giving them any time on the ball. Showed just how much we have missed him with some crunching tackles, winning the ball often and then setting others up to carry the ball forward and is really the sort of player that gets on an opponents nerves! Scored a well deserved goal with a low well placed shot when two other strikes were blocked. Manse will be a very important player should we have to go down the Play Off route and the whole unit of Bodin,Manse,Lines and Montano for me provides a great balance and certainly a much more attacking look than the Bodin,O Clarke,Lines and Lawrence set up or the even more defensive 3-5-2.
Lines 8.5 – For me the best performance from Chris this season. It was a performance full of driving runs that took him past opponents with ease and he really looks a class act when he plays like this. Not afraid to do his defensive duties but every time he ran with the ball York were in trouble and the pleasing thing is that if we do have to play further games this season then he is coming into form at the right time. One run ended in a great shot and it can certainly be said that he is due a goal. When he plays like this he looks a class above and I was very undecided with Man of the Match between him, Mansell and Bodin – all three gave great performances and all had cases for the award.
Bodin 8.5 – 12 goals this season is a great return for Billy who at times looks a fantastic player. His footwork is class and the way he took the ball around the keeper for his second goal was a lesson in keeping your nerve in a tight situation- in fact it was a great goal in every respect and i very much hope we offer him a decent contract for next season. His first goal was a strange one because from our view it looked like it had gone in the side netting rather than creeping inside the post,it was however a typical hard Billy shot that took the keeper by surprise. He really is capable of taking on defenders with his close footwork and at his best when he is cutting in from the right.
Taylor 6.5 – This was a mixed game for Matty. It is obvious that his goalscoring feat means that he has to put up with extra tight marking however yesterday he was gifted a chance of a run clean through on goal by terribloe York defending and for the first time in a long time he missed a complete sitter, sending the ball wide when a goal looked certain. One dummy in the second half showed the other side of Matty and set up a chance but the worrying sight of him down in a heap and seemingly in agony and the doctor coming onto the pitch before leaving the pitch with the aide of trainer and doctor is hopefully not as bad as it originally looked as we will sorely miss him if our season is extended. I await with bated breath for the extent of the injury.
Gaffney 6 – Hard working whilst not a spectacular performance.

Looked a goal all the way when he took the ball in towards goal but his shot lacked the power whilst not the accuracy and was cleared off the line in the first half. Personally would have substituted him a bit earlier as he has been a bit off the pace at times since his return from injury but he does give us a certain physical strength and DC obviously thinks he does a useful part for the team whilst trying to play him back into form..
Gosling 6.5 – Perhaps this is his best role coming on to replace the tiring Montano with fresh legs to play against a tiring defence. Certainly he was better than at Stevenage where I thought we had probably seen the last of him for this season. For me he is a really frustrating player because he showed with an exquisite pass to Easter what a creative player he can be and to be fair most of his touches yesterday were positive ones.

Harrison 6.5 – For the first time in the game we had some aerial prowess and the defenders didn’t like it. His pace can be an asset to the team and his leaping ability was shown on a few occasions and to add to that he managed to get through the game without a booking.

Easter 7 – For me he is so unlucky not to be playing a much fuller part as he looks to me to now be in peak fitness which is a great shame given there is is only one game left (hopefully!) Took his goal the way we all expected him to take a chance and looks so composed in possession of the ball. I would definitely offer him another contract whichever League we are in next year as IMO he definitely has the quality for either division but could be at his most dangerous playing behind a front two but of course it depends if we can afford that luxury.
Referee 8 Couldn’t even tell you what he looked like which I think means he had a good game!!
Fans 8.5 Great noise and what a turnout with 2000 of a 4500 gate. I am sure it would have been a lot more if tickets were available. I very much hope it was a misunderstanding rather than a definite trick that gave a false sense of hope five minutes from time because it just is not needed in such a tense position. To be honest there was no competition as the home fans were understandably quiet both from their plight and from them being overall well outclassed.
York 4 – Started far better than they finished but my only real thought was how on earth could they beat Pompey 3-1 as they offered very little threat and their defence just got worn down as the game went on and it would have been no surprise if we had ended up with a score similar to Alfreton last season as this was certainly more of ” an Alfreton moment” rather than a “Dover moment”.
DC For me got the team selection and the substitutions right and went for the jugular rather than the containing game. I very much hope he is able to field the same team next Saturday in what is sure to be another tense affair and in many ways I hope it is because the only way it will be anything different is if Accrington and Oxford take early grips of their games. If we do have to get promotion the hard way then who better to be leading us.
It was a strange feeling yesterday, in many ways similar to leaving the Mem after the 7-0 thrashing of Alfreton in that we had played excellently and got the perfect result but the other results didn’t go for us and it felt like a defeat. The difference this time is that we have another chance and whilst it seemed our best chance was yesterday we mall know from our own situation at home to Mansfield on that fateful day that the last match of a season brings a completely different pressure in that next week there is no other chance to go up automatically and whatever is at 5pm next Saturday will be.It is not often that the last saturday of the season does not have more twists and turns and it is that hope which we can hold on to. The most important thing is that we do our job and beat Dagenham because if we do that and do lose out at least we will enter the Play offs as the form team.

My thoughts today are that whatever happens the fact is that we are entering the last game with a chance of automatic promotion in either 2nd or 3rd place and if that doesn’t happen then we have another chance in the Play Offs. Make no mistake this has been a brilliant season and for those that left the ground disappointed yesterday be honest and say that who could have thought either at the start of the season or even more so after leaving the Mem following the 2-1 defeat to Stevenage that we would find ourselves in the position we now find ourselves in going into the last game? This team has done us proud this season no matter what the outcome. The Manager and players have given everything and the new owners have been the icing on the cake. Make no mistake we have our Rovers back big time and can wear our shirts with pride. The position we now find ourselves in is a bonus and remember that when we played Mansfield on that dreadful day we only had to draw the game to stay up irrespective of other results. Oxford and Accrington both know that only by winning can they both guarantee themselves promotion without relying on our result so can’t play for a draw.

Its still possible lads , lets all believe and please no false scores being given out next week! UTG

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